With polls showing a tight race between incumbent Emmanuel Macron and his far-right rival, French stars from a range of sporting disciplines have joined forces and urged voters to elect Macron.
Dupont and Pinot have been joined by – among dozens of others – basketball hero Tony Parker, paralympic skiing champion Marie Bochet, tennis stars Yannick Noah and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Olympic judo gold medallist Clarisse Agbégnénou, and footballer Dimitri Payet.
The letter, published in French daily Le Parisien, reminded voters that France’s next head of state will open the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
“We cannot imagine that this historic moment could be scarred by the presence of the extreme right,” they wrote.
“Although we are well aware of the difficulties facing many people in France, voting for a party that would endanger republican values would be the worst of solutions.
“The sport we believe in, the one of the Olympic values, is made of friendship and respect; it is the place of diversity. It refuses all discrimination. Everywhere in the country, in our cities, our suburbs and our countryside, sport is a powerful remedy to exclusion.
“In these uncertain times, it is a vector of togetherness. This is the case when a whole nation remembers that it is ONE by cheering in unison behind the exploits of its athletes.
“It is because we believe in this sport, fraternal and inclusive, that we are committed to preventing our nation from placing at its head a president who embodies the very opposite; the stigmatisation of the other, withdrawal, nationalism. And that we therefore call for a vote for Emmanuel Macron on April 24th.”
Paralympic wheelchair tennis champion Michaël Jeremiasz told France Info that the letter had come about after “discussions with several sportspeople based on a common conviction of the urgency of the situation”.
“Our cultural and ethnic origins should not be a determinant of anything.
“That’s not the France I want to live in, the values I have, or that I want to pass on to my child. The idea is to unite men and women around universal values of togetherness and tolerance, for a fairer and less discriminatory society.”
Five years ago, some 60 athletes signed an open letter calling on voters to reject Le Pen in the second round of the 2017 election.
Signatories: Clarisse Agbégnénou (judo), Samir Aït Saïd (gymnastics), Valériane Ayayi Vukosavljević (basketball), Brahim Asloum (boxing), Romain Bardet (cycling), Cécilia Berder (fencing), Alain Bernard (swimming), Marie Bochet (skiing), Laure Boulleau (football), Justine Braisaz-Bouchet (biathlon), Romain Cannone (fencing), Souleymane Cissokho (boxing), Élodie Clouvel (pentathlon), Cléopâtre Darleux (handball), Isabelle Demongeot (tennis), Stéphane Diagana (athletics), Boris Diaw (basketball), Céline Dumerc (basketball), Antoine Dupont (rugby), Gévrise Émane (judo), Maud Fontenoy (sailing), Pierre Gasly (F1), Edgar Grospiron (mogul skiing), Amandine Henry (football), Stéphane Houdet (tennis), Muriel Hurtis (athlétisme), Mickaël Jeremiasz (tennis), Nikola Karabatic (handball), Raphaël Ibañez (rugby), Jean Le Cam (sailing), Eugénie Le Sommer (football), Christophe Lemaitre (athletics), Laure Manaudou (swimming), Blaise Matuidi (football), Frédéric Michalak (rugby), Estelle Mossely (boxing), Earvin Ngapeth (volleyball), Valérie Nicolas (handball), Yannick Noah (tennis), Sarah Ourahmoune (boxing), Jean-Pierre Papin (football), Tony Parker (basketball), Dimitri Payet (football), Marie-José Pérec (athletics), Allison Pineau (handball), Thibaut Pinot (cycling), Jackson Richardson (handball), Charles Rozoy (swimming), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (tennis), Jessy Trémoulière (rugby), Cameron Woki (rugby), Tony Yoka (boxing).